By Okafor Joseph
Monday, January 29,2018 @ 2:36 PM
Childhood Development in Nigeria; Problems And Solutions.
The major distinguishing feature between human beings and other creature is signposted in the ability of man to gain new knowledge in an organized manner called education. To further emphasize the pivotal role education performs in the development of humanity, the United Nations advocates that about 26% of the nations annual budget should go to education.
Though well said but hardly do any nation, not even the so-called developed or developing nations adhere to this directive with Nigeria being the worst hit. One major area that this lack of care and underfunding of education by the successive administration in Nigeria has made so vulnerable is the early childhood education.
But for a better understanding of this piece, there is a need for us to add context to this discourse by finding out the meaning of early childhood education and the reason behind the Federal/State Government decision to relegate this all-important aspect of education to the background.
According to the world foremost information search engine, Wikipedia, it is a branch of educational theory which relates to the teaching of young children (formally and informally) up until the age of about eight. Infant/toddler education, a subset of early childhood education, denotes the education of children from birth to age two.
Again, the main objectives behind early childhood education in Nigeria may include but not limited to; making it easier for the children to move on from being at home to going to school. Preparing kids for primary education in terms of knowledge and skills. Teaching children the social norms, fostering good health habits. Encouraging and fostering creativity.
Others according to professional educators includes developing a sense of unity and cooperation among the kids. Providing supervision and care for kids while their parents are busy. In an ideal situation, early childhood education can be a perfect tool that serves as a healthy transition from early childhood to the first steps of being a grownup.
However, despite these important objectives behind early childhood education, the support. Funding and implementation is still a far cry as it is daily faced with a hydra-headed challenge.
As a whole, Nigerian education has struggled to find its footing since the first years of Nigeria’s independence. The transition from being a colony to an independent country had a significant effect on all areas of life, but it affected education the most
One of the biggest challenge bedeviling today’s early childhood education practice in Nigeria is the lack of qualified teachers. Many early education institutions severely underpay their staff, which negatively affects the employment rates. Those teachers that agree to the low pay are often unqualified for the task at hand. Of course, there is always an option of a private nursery school. They employ teachers that actually have the proper qualifications and the level of professionalism. Nevertheless, not that many people can afford to pay the tuition fees. Therefore, they have no choice but to deal with subpar learning conditions for their child.
In the same token, most of the early childhood education institutions do not only provide mediocre education, but they also cannot offer decent care for children. As we have mentioned before, many teachers are not exactly qualified for their positions. This means that many of them do not know how to deal with kids at all, especially with children as young as three years old. Read more:
In addition to that, barely any early childhood education institutions have enough staff to handle the children. The approved ratio of teacher to pupil is 1:25. For many institutions, this ratio is not very beneficial, which is why the classes are overpopulated, and many kids do not receive the attention they deserve. At the same time, this problem lies deeper, as not that many people want to pursue a profession in early childhood education in the first place. They see how bad things are, so they settle for something more stable and profitable. And that is not all: Another issue that might seem minor to some but very important to others is the implementation of native tongues into early childhood education. Most of the institutions operate using English only, and it is understandable. However, children would benefit from learning more about their native languages Read more
One of the main reasons why the situation with early childhood education is so unsatisfactory is the lack of effective supervision of institutions that provide early childhood education. Technically, nursing schools and other similar institutions have to be visited by officials from the Ministry of Education prior to their opening and checked regularly afterward. In reality, this rarely happens, so there is little to no quality control. The biggest issue, in fact, lies in the negligence of the Nigerian government. While it did facilitate the opening of many early childhood education institutions across the country, it did not provide them with enough resources. Additionally, it does not provide any incentives for people to work at these institutions, so the salaries remain low. This, of course, does not motivate anyone to work there, and the circle closes. Read more
Synoptically, the main issues of early childhood education in Nigeria could succulently be listed in this manner; Lack of qualified staff in many early childhood education institutions, which affects the quality of provided services.
Getting this hydra-headed challenge of faulty early child education will require the reworking of our educational system that is near comatose. Achieving this will, in turn, require the collective effort of the federal, state and local Governments in Nigeria in the following ways.
Education as a sector needs to be well funded as explained above. It will not be out of place if education is given between 20 to the 26% of the nation’s annual budget as advocated by the united nation. Also, the issue of monitoring of our educational sector needs to be urgently tackled. Government at the federal, state and local governments are visibly in the needed political will to monitor and supervise our educational sector; a development that has paved way for the wanton decay of the sector. In addition to all these is the need for training and retraining of our teachers to enable them to be exposed to the modern educational trends in the world.